MLB Hall of Famer passes away at age 57

674564.jpg

MLB Hall of Famer passes away at age 57

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- In a rough-and-tumble clubhouse filled with dark secrets and constant conflict, there was always one sunny stall. Those New York Mets could count on Gary Carter to deliver -- a smile, a spark and ultimately a championship. The effervescent Hall of Fame catcher whose single for the Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball, died Thursday. The Kid was 57. Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, two weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Carter died at a hospice in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area. "Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played," Mets Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver said. Carter's bubbly personality and eagerness to excel on a ballfield made him a joy to watch at the plate and behind it. Even his Hall of Fame bronze plaque at Cooperstown shows him with a toothy grin and bears his boyish nickname -- the "Kid" forever. "I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m.," Carter's daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family website. "This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know." Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. His bottom-of-the-10th single in Game 6 of the 1986 Series helped the Mets mount a charge against the Boston Red Sox and eventually beat them. With curly, blond locks flaring out from beneath his helmet, and a rigid, upright batting stance, Carter was immediately recognizable. And anyone who watched Carter recognized his zest. After Carter's diagnosis, the Mets began playing a highlight reel of his accomplishments on the video board during games at Citi Field and posted this message: "Our thoughts are with you Gary. From your millions of fans and the New York Mets." "His nickname The Kid' captured how Gary approached life," the Mets said Thursday in a statement. "He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. ... He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did." Carter played nearly two decades with the Mets, Montreal, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the Expos to their only playoff berth and was the first player enshrined in Cooperstown wearing an Expos cap. "Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world every day," Mets teammate Mookie Wilson once said. Carter was known as much for his engaging personality as his talents. He drew his nickname as an eager teen in his first major league camp and the label stuck for the rest of his career, and beyond. "An exuberant on-field general with a signature smile who was known for clutch hitting and rock-solid defense over 19 seasons," reads his Hall plaque. He was especially pumped during the biggest moment of his career. The 86 Mets were a team with big stars, giant egos and huge expectations. They had a reputation for fighting on the field -- and sometimes among themselves -- and partying hard late into the night. Drug problems derailed the careers of two gifted teammates, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. Despite all their talent, the Mets were down to their last chance in the World Series when Carter stepped up with two outs. No one was on base, and New York was trailing Boston 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 6. Carter said he had just one thought in mind: "I wasn't going to make the last out of the World Series." True to his word, he delivered a clean single to left field off Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi. Kevin Mitchell followed with a single, and when Ray Knight also singled, Carter scampered home from second base. As Carter crossed the plate, he clapped his hands, pointed at Wilson on deck and clapped again. Moments later, Bill Buckner's error scored Knight for an amazing 6-5 win. Carter rushed from the dugout to join the celebration at home plate, catcher's gear already on. Overshadowed by the rally was the fact that Carter had tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Then in Game 7, Carter drove in the tying run in the sixth inning, and the Mets went on to win their most recent championship. "What he added to the team was character. His approach to the game was contagious. It spread to the rest of us. He helped each of us understand what it took to win," Strawberry said. Carter homered twice over the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Game 4 and totaled nine RBIs in that Series. Since then, only two players have gotten more in a World Series (Mike Napoli for Texas in 2011 and Sandy Alomar Jr. for Cleveland in 1997 each had 10). Overall, Carter hit .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs with the Expos, Mets, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He set the major league record for putouts by a catcher, a testament to his durability despite nine knee operations. "Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, Gary Carter became one of the elite catchers of all-time," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the 86 Mets and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played." Carter twice was the MVP of the All-Star game. He won the award in 1981 by homering twice in baseball's first game after a players' strike that lasted two months. He remains the lone player to have a two-homer performance in an All-Star game and a World Series game. Carter also set the NL record for games caught. "I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound, including location, what pitch to throw and when. Even when I didn't have my best stuff, he found a way to get me through the game. He was just a warrior on the field," Gooden said. Carter, however, spent his first full season in the majors primarily as Montreal's right fielder. His first All-Star appearance came that year, in 1975, as a defensive replacement in left field for Pete Rose. Later, Carter was recognized for his contributions off the field when he was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award. Carter hit his first major league homer in September 1974 off future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton as a 20-year-old rookie -- Carter homered 11 times against the ace lefty, his top victim. Carter spent his first 11 years with the Expos and was part of a solid core that put them into the 1981 playoffs. They beat the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies in a new first round created after the strike split the season into two halves, but lost to the Dodgers in the NL championship series. "Learning of Gary's passing feels as if I just lost a family member," former Expos pitcher Steve Rogers said. "Gary and I grew up together in the game, and during our time with the Expos we were as close as brothers, if not closer. Gary was a champion. He was a gamer' in every sense of the word -- on the field and in life. He made everyone else around him better, and he made me a better pitcher." A perennial fan favorite, Carter returned to Montreal in 1992 for one final season. His last swing was a memorable one -- he hit an RBI double in the seventh inning at Olympic Stadium, left for a pinch-runner to a huge ovation from the home crowd and walked away after that 1-0 win over the Cubs. Carter was elected to the Hall in 2003 on his sixth try. He had joked that he wanted his Cooperstown cap to be a half-and-halfer, split between the Expos and Mets. The Hall makes the ultimate call on the logo. Carter pleased Canadian fans by delivering part of his induction speech in French. Born and raised in California, he took a Berlitz course to help him learn the language after the Expos drafted him. "It's nice to know that even though my body feels like an old man now, I will always be a kid at heart," Carter said on his election. The Expos traded him to the Mets after the 1984 season for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. Carter turned out to be one of the last missing pieces on a New York team that already had the likes of Strawberry, Gooden and Keith Hernandez. He made an immediate impression -- it just took a little extra time to get it right in his Mets debut in 1985. In the season opener at Shea Stadium, Carter took strike three, had a passed ball that gave St. Louis a run and watched Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar steal a base against him. But in the bottom of the 10th inning, Carter hit a home run that won the game and drew a standing ovation plus chants of "Gary! Gary! Gary!" "What a way to start," Carter said with a grin afterward. "Hit by a pitch, strike out looking, a stolen base, a passed ball and then the home run." "There's not enough words to describe what it feels like," he said. "I'll certainly remember this the rest of my life." It wasn't the only time he bounced back from a rugged start. Slumping badly in the 1986 NL championship series, Carter hit a winning single in the bottom of the 12th to beat Houston in Game 5, putting the Mets within one win of the World Series. "Nobody loved life in a bigger way than Gary," said former Mets manager Davey Johnson, who now has the same job with the Washington Nationals. "Gary's brave battle has ended, but his from-the-gut laughter will be heard and his vitality and spirit will be felt forever. I loved him very much, and I know he is finally at peace." A two-sport athlete as a boy, Carter won the 7-year-old national division of the NFL's first Punt, Pass & Kick skills competition in 1961. He was a pitcher and shortstop in Little League and switched to catching in high school after a scout suggested it was the fastest path to the big leagues, turning down a chance to play football at UCLA. Carter stayed in baseball after his playing days ended. He became a broadcaster for the Florida Marlins, coached and managed for the Mets in the minors, managed two independent minor league teams and coached in college. Carter made it to opening day for Palm Beach Atlantic University on Feb. 2, shaking hands with each player on the team. He watched about three innings and received a standing ovation from the crowd. The Mets had invited him to spring training, which opens Wednesday. The only hint of negative publicity Carter drew came a few years ago when he appeared to be campaigning for the Mets' managing job though it was already filled. Carter, however, always had a winning touch. At the ballpark or away, he greeted fans with a hearty handshake -- many marveling at how his big right hand had swallowed up theirs. Current Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese played under Carter in 2005 and 2006. "The one thing Gary stressed to us was team. He said individual goals were meaningless," Niese said. "He said the name on the front of the uniform was more important than the name on the back. That's what I'll take from my two years with him."

Cubs hope adding Joe Nathan to bullpen can be like making a trade-deadline splash

Cubs hope adding Joe Nathan to bullpen can be like making a trade-deadline splash

MILWAUKEE – As the New York Yankees engaged in the bidding war for Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs welcomed Joe Nathan into their clubhouse, hoping a six-time All-Star closer can become a game changer for their bullpen.

At the age of 41 – and after two Tommy John surgeries on his right elbow – Nathan won’t be throwing 105 mph. But even if the Cubs aren’t getting Nathan at the height of his powers, it’s still a potential upgrade before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

“We’ll see,” Nathan said before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “These guys obviously have done something special the first half of the season and put themselves in a great (position) to make the postseason.

“Time will tell who is the right fit. And if they’re going to make more moves, who knows? I’m sure they’re checking to see what’s out there. But for us, we just want to concentrate on today and getting a ‘W.’”

To activate Nathan off the 60-day disabled list – and add a reliever who’s eighth on the all-time list with 377 career saves – the Cubs optioned Adam Warren to Triple-A Iowa to stretch him out as a starter.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

The Cubs believe Nathan is still hungry, even after making more than $85 million in his career, wanting to write a different ending after facing only one hitter with the Detroit Tigers last year, his season ending on Opening Day.

Nathan was willing to take the prorated major-league minimum, sweat through the heat at the team’s Arizona complex and try to find it again at Double-A Tennessee and Iowa.

“Right from Day 1, it really wasn’t a question of if I’m going to try to come back from this,” Nathan said. “Why not? Why wouldn’t I at least put my best foot forward? If I’m going to rehab it, I might as well go 100 percent at it and see where it goes.

“The good test for me was I was living at home, going through it, bringing the kids to school, doing homework, doing normal stuff. At the same time, I still had the itch.

“That kind of told me, too. If I was home, and I was like, ‘You know what, this is kind of nice,’ it would have been easy to just say: ‘No, I’m good.’ But I still had that kick in the butt to get up and come back to this game.”

Carlos Rodon set to make rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte

Carlos Rodon set to make rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte

Carlos Rodon is closer to returning to the White Sox and Anthony Ranaudo is here.

The White Sox announced that Rodon is set to make a rehab start at Triple-A Charlotte on Monday.

Rodon — who is 2-7 with a 4.50 ERA this season — was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left wrist retroactive to July 6. He sustained the injury while running up the dugout steps in the final week of the first half.

The White Sox promoted Ranaudo on Sunday after they placed Chris Sale on the suspended list. Sale’s five-game suspension is retroactive to Saturday, when his start was skipped and he was sent home early after destroying the promotional 1976 throwback jerseys the team was scheduled to wear.

A former supplemental first-round draft pick, Ranaudo was acquired from the Texas Rangers on May 12. He was 5-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Charlotte. Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2010, Ranaudo has a 6.33 ERA in 13 career games in the majors.

The White Sox also added Carlos Sanchez as their 26th man before the start of Sunday’s originally scheduled game. The teams completed Saturday’s rain-suspended contest earlier Sunday with the White Sox winning 4-3.

Chris Sale's suspension 'does not move the needle' regarding his value to White Sox

Chris Sale's suspension 'does not move the needle' regarding his value to White Sox

The White Sox cut Chris Sale’s season short by five games on Sunday morning.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn formally announced that Sale was suspended five games retroactive to Saturday for insubordination and destroying team equipment.

Hahn didn’t disclose many details about the "clubhouse incident" or an evening meeting with Sale, who also played a leading role in a March clubhouse protest when Adam LaRoche abruptly retired after a dispute with management over the presence of his son in the clubhouse.

But according to a baseball source and multiple reports, Sale had his Saturday start scratched and was sent home early after he objected to wearing and then destroyed the promotional 1976 throwback jerseys the team was scheduled to don. Hahn declined to comment when asked if Sale used scissors to destroy the jerseys. But the actions of Sale — whose suspension concludes Wednesday and could pitch Thursday against the Cubs — merited discipline, Hahn said.

“Obviously, we’re all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the the standpoint of the club as well as Chris’ perspective,” Hahn said. “It’s unfortunate that it has become this level of an issue and potential distraction taking away from what we’re trying to accomplish on the field. …

“We had perhaps the opportunity to discipline him back in spring and as an organization we decided to not do that. Yesterday crossed a different line.”

White Sox players and manager Robin Ventura left most of the discussion surrounding the event to Hahn, who said Sale could offer more details if he chooses when he returns.

Sale was not expected to be at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday. Ventura said he hadn’t spoken since Sale left the ballpark. Ventura called it a “tough day” and praised players who filled in. Though Sale may have to apologize to teammates, Ventura said the damage was far from irreparable.

“It’s nothing that can’t be smoothed over,” Ventura said. “This is not the first one. I think for him, he has the ability to come back here and pitch and carry on.”

Third baseman Todd Frazier declined to discuss whether the jerseys, which the team wore last season and have since been altered to improve comfort, were an issue. He also wouldn’t say whether or not he talked to Sale, only offering a brief summation of the events.

“It’s crazy,” Frazier said. “You talk to umpires during games and stuff and it’s like you think you’ve seen it all baseball-wise. It’s tough to talk about. It’s just something different.”

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

White Sox pitcher James Shields said Sale has his teammates’ backing and that “sometimes emotions get the best of us.” He also said Sale continues to be a leader in the White Sox clubhouse — perhaps even more effective than Shields expected when he joined the club in early June.

“I’ve known Chris for years,” Shields said. “Now that I’ve gotten to be his teammate, he’s one of the better teammates I’ve been around. He’s definitely a team player. He’s a winner. He wants to take the ball every five days and win ballgames.”

With the Aug. 1 nonwaiver deadline eight days away, Hahn also dispelled the notion that Sale’s actions have left the relationship between himself and the club in disrepair. While Sale may have crossed a marker, Hahn said the five-time All-Star hasn’t passed the point of no return with the organization.

Much of the initial intrigue around the event surrounded trade speculation when Sale was scratched from his start. On Thursday, Hahn said the White Sox wouldn’t make any short-term additions before the deadline and that the club is “open-minded” to any and all competitors’ offers. Sale has reportedly drawn interest from several teams, including the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. But Hahn was adamant that as upsetting as Saturday’s events are, it wouldn’t have an impact on whether or not Sale is traded.

“The actions or behaviors of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship and win multiple championships,” Hahn said. “It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events.”